Good morning, I’m Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, PCAC. It will be interesting to see if today’s meeting can top the news that came out on Monday. Our thanks go to Senator Schumer and the members of the New York delegation who voted yes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. You did the right thing for the region and the millions of riders who rely on you.
The news out of Washington, and subsequently from Albany, will inform the 2022 budget, which we’ll see in draft form today as the November plan. Though we haven’t seen it, we do anticipate red ink in the out years. The good news is that for now, the primary focus of the coming year can be correctly where it needs to be: getting riders back on subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North. Keeping service levels high – and restoring service to pre-pandemic levels wherever feasible – will help encourage people to get out of their cars and into train cars. Holding fares flat for the critical months when more people return to offices will remind New Yorkers what a bargain transit really is, in the long run. Innovative fare options will serve as further enticement.
But the best way to bring riders back is to keep investing in them, with new stations like the Elmont Station – the LIRR’s first new one in almost half a century; extending the Second Avenue Subway up to 125th Street; Penn Access, to bring Metro-North into Penn Station, and fixing that key commuter hub; and completing East Side Access and Third Track so that real reverse commute options become a reality for Long Island.
More capital money means less borrowing, and less out of scarce operating funds to pay it off. Capital from the infrastructure bill is an investment in the region, but we need more to maintain the system and keep improving it. That’s why congestion pricing is so important. Similarly, finding new sources of sustainable operating revenue at the state level will be key to keeping service where, and when, riders need it. We remain committed to working with you and our elected officials on both. It’s in the best interest of the region, and riders.